bible study devotion

Devotion: what must I do to be saved?

Dr. Andrew C S Koh

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The Jew’s favorite question to Jesus was what they must do to inherit eternal life. The rich, young ruler man was no different. Luke 18:23 described him as very rich. Matthew 19:20 described him as young. Luke 18:1 described him as a ruler. Mark 10:17 said he ran to Jesus and knelt down to worship Him. He was very sincere and desperately wanted eternal life. 


Luke 18:18-24


18 A certain ruler asked him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus asked him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good, except one: God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Don’t commit adultery,’ ‘Don’t murder,’ ‘Don’t steal,’ ‘Don’t give false testimony,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”, Exodus 20:12-16, Deuteronomy 5:16-29. 21 He said, “I have observed all these things from my youth up.” 22 When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was very rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he became very sad, said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into God’s Kingdom! (read the rest of Luke 18 on your own)

Luke 18:18-24


The rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to possess eternal life. He addressed Jesus respectfully as a Good Teacher. Jesus asked why he called Him good. Was he implying that Jesus was God?  Jesus quoted the last 5 of the 10 commandments. The man happily ticked all the boxes. ‘I passed’ or so he thought! But Jesus gave him one more box to tick. Liquidate all his assets, donate all the proceeds to charity, follow Jesus, and inherit eternal life. He could not tick this box. He walked away from the deal with great sorrow because he was very rich. 

What went wrong? Jesus diagnosed his spiritual condition as covetousness. Here was a man who loved possessions more than God. The radical surgery for this condition is to take away possessions. He chose to walk away from Jesus. He was very close to inheriting eternal life (salvation) but missed it. Sincerity will not do it. Keeping a set of laws will not do it. Only a radical change of heart will do it. Salvation required a spiritual heart transplant. He must be born again, John 3:3.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”

John 3:3, NKJV

Here was a sinner who thought he was righteous (self-righteous). Did he pass the test of law-keeping? No way! Jesus exposed his true spiritual condition and gave him a chance to confess his sin. When asked to liquidate and donate to charity, the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus. It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. This is a hyperbole, an exaggerated figure of speech. The eye of a needle is a tiny little aperture. The camel is the biggest animal in Israel. But God can make this happen. Zaccheaus was a very rich man but he was saved, Luke 19:1-10.

The disciples left everything to follow Jesus and they will inherit eternal life, Luke 18:29-30.

He said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left houses, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children, for God’s Kingdom’s sake, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life.”

Luke 18:29-30


Jesus’ injunction to liquidate and donate to charity is a specific injunction to the man in this story. This is not a universal call to poverty as a prerequisite to salvation. His love for money prevented him from following Jesus. Instead of possessing money, money possessed him. 

The challenge to you and me today is to hold lightly to the things of the world. Prioritize your lives and put Jesus first before everything else. You can serve only one master. Will you serve Jesus or money?  

Follow Jesus wholeheartedly. Do not let anything stand in the way. 

So, what must you do to inherit eternal life?

It is not what you do. It is what Jesus had already done for you on the cross 2000 years ago. Jesus paid the price of your sin for you on the cross. All you need to do is to believe Him. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and not by work. Ephesians 2:8-9.

for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9


Heavenly Father, thank You for the timeless lesson on the rich, young ruler. Help us not to covet. Help us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Help us to surrender our lives to You and make You the center of our lives. Help us to love You vertically and help others horizontally. Thank You for salvation by grace through faith in Christ,  in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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name card
bible study devotion

Devotion: the Lost son

Dr. Andrew C Koh

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open bible


Heavenly Father, thank You for Your divine appointment with us. Thank You for meeting us through the pages of scripture. Speak to us through the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of eternal life, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Have you lost anything? It is very frustrating to have lost something. You will turn the whole house upside down until you find it. 

Luke 15 is a chapter concerning the lost and the found. Here is a triplet of three parables, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. The tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus to hear Him teach. The Pharisees and scribes were incensed because Jesus was so friendly with the social outcasts whom they considered to be sinners. Jesus responded to this attack by telling these three parables. 

Luke 15:11-24

11 He said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of your property.’ So he divided his livelihood between them. 13 Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living. 14 When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. 19 I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 “He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet.23 Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let’s eat, and celebrate; 24 for this, my son, was dead and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ Then they began to celebrate ( read the rest of Luke 15 on your own)

Luke 15:11-24


Here is the famous parable of the lost or prodigal son. A man had two sons. The younger son demanded his share of his father’s estate when his father was still alive! In Jewish custom, the elder son will get 2/3 and the younger son gets 1/3 of the estate but only when the father dies. After cashing out the money, the younger son ran away to a Gentile country and wasted everything on irresponsible living. Very soon, he was bankrupt and destitute. To make matters worse, a severe recession hit the land. The only job he could get was to look after the pigs for a Gentile businessman. Here is the shocking part.  He had to feed the pig!  For a Jew to feed the pigs was terribly insulting as pigs are unclean animals. He was so hungry that he even wanted to eat the pig’s food! 

When the prodigal son hits rock bottom, he came back to his senses. He was dying of hunger. He decided to return to his father or he will be dead. He acknowledged that he had made a terrible mistake. He was willing to apologize to his father and become his servant. He made a 180 degrees U-turn to go home, rehearsing his repentance speech along the way. 

When he was still a long way off, his father spotted him from a distance. The father felt sorry for the son. He had been looking out for him ever since he left. He ran and kissed the son’s neck even though he was dirty and smelly all over. In those days, for a rich man to run was considered very shameful. Before the son could even complete his repentance speech, the father interrupted him. 

The father covered the son with the best robe, put a signet ring on his hand, shoes on his feet, slaughtered the fattened calf, and hosted a feast to celebrate the return of his lost son. 


A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. In a parable, every character represents something. The father represents God. The prodigal son represents the tax collectors and sinners. The best robe represents Christ’s robe of righteousness. The signet ring and shoes represent restoration to sonship. The signet ring is a stamp for authorizing family transactions. In those days, servants went around barefooted but sons wear shoes. 

The prodigal son also represents people. People have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. People are like lost sheep who have turned to their own way. God waits patiently for people to repent and comes back to HIm. He will forgive people who come to him in repentance. He will cover them with Christ’s robe of righteousness and restore them to sonship. 

The prodigal son also represents Christians who have back-slided in the faith. God is waiting for them to repent and turn back to him. To repent is to make a 180 degrees U-turn and return to God in repentance. God waits patiently for back-slided Christians to return to Him. 

The father had to celebrate because his son was lost and found. He was given up for dead but came home alive. The elder brother in the parable represents the self-righteous, judgmental, and hypocritical Pharisees and scribes, who scoffed at the tax collectors and sinners.  They too needed to repent and come back to God but they would not. 


People are like lost sheep who had gone astray. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for them on the cross to pay the penalty of their sins for them. There will be great joy in heaven when one sinner repents and turn back to God. 

The prodigal son came back to his senses, returned home, confessed his sin, and repented. The four steps to salvation are acknowledgment of sin, return to God, confession, and repentance. God is waiting for sinners to return to Him. 

Have you walked away from God? You can return to him right now, right where you are. In a simple prayer, confess your sin, and surrender your life to God. He is waiting for you.


Heavenly Father, thank You for the wonderful and memorable parable of the prodigal son. Thank You for looking for us to bring us home to You through Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Thank you for the wonderful gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. If we have walked away from You, help us to return back to You. Help us to recommit our lives to You to serve You in the kingdom of God, in Jesus’ name, Amen.